5 Clever Movie Schemes You Didn't Realize Were Stupid
People in movies can be pretty dumb, because most movies would be boring if they weren't. How many horror films would end after five minutes if the characters decided not to go camping in the isolated cabin the locals warned them about? How many romantic comedies are based on one stupid misunderstanding that could be explained in 30 seconds by anybody not suffering from minor brain damage? We've got to give them a pass on that kind of stupidity. What's less forgivable, however, is when a movie tries to fool us into thinking its stupid characters are actually being clever. Like in ...
Django Unchained -- Django Assumes Racists Hate Money
Django Unchained is the story of a slave getting his revenge, and also a convenient excuse for Quentin Tarantino to drop as many N-words as possible. Django is the titular unchained slave who's taken on as an apprentice by adorably German bounty hunter Dr. Schultz. After Boba Fetting it up through the winter, Django finally gets bored of side missions and decides to advance the story -- he goes to use his new blood money to buy his captive wife, Broomhilda's, freedom.
She was high on his shopping list, right behind some cool new threads.
But Schultz argues that if her owner, Calvin Candie, finds out she's Django's wife, he won't want to sell her out of random, unexplained spite. Instead Schultz suggests that they pretend to be interested in Candie's brutal slave fighting business and arrange to buy one of his best and most expensive fighters. Then they can ask Candie to throw Broomhilda in for free, like how you get a free tank of gas when you buy a new car, but with way more human rights violations.
What They Should Have Done:
Wait, why would Candie refuse to sell, again?
Sure, slavers are jerks, and Candie is sort of violent and crazy, but he's still a rich white guy. And what do rich white guys love? More money. As horrible as it sounds, Candie simply thinks of Broomhilda as property. We're never given any reason to believe otherwise. If Django offered him more than Broomhilda was worth, he would have absolutely no incentive to refuse. Big money for a slave who can't even kill things with her bare hands? Candie would have been doing racist back flips all the way to the bank.
"Now I can buy enough slaves to fill THREE torture holes!"
But let's suppose Candie likes being petty to strangers more than he likes money. Why would he have to find out that Django is Broomhilda's husband? Just because honesty is the best policy? In fact, why the hell does Django have to be there at all? Schultz goes into Candie's home pretending to be Django's boss anyway. Why couldn't he have just gone in alone and explained that he heard there was a slave who spoke German here (this was their excuse for being interested in Broomhilda in the actual movie, remember) and that he could use help translating some of the finer nuances of his enemy's pleas for mercy?
For what it's worth, Tarantino says that Schultz came up with the obviously flawed, needlessly convoluted plan because he gets off on scheming and deceit. But come on -- we haven't seen such transparent ass-covering since that time we got thrown out of the community pool for our Saran Wrap bathing suit.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest -- Davy Jones Hides His Treasure Chest Somewhere He Can't Get to It (But Other People Can)
After getting dumped by his sea goddess girlfriend, supernatural octopus pirate Davy Jones decides to cut out his own heart so he never feels love again, because listening to Sunny Day Real Estate and getting trashed on Pabst hadn't been invented yet. He puts the heart in the Dead Man's Chest, buries it on an island, and hopes that no one ever finds it, because anyone who owns it would have control over him.
And would use it to make his tentacles do unspeakable things.
Unfortunately for him, Johnny Depp and whoever the other characters in this movie were find the chest without any apparent difficulty. There's nothing unusual or dangerous about the island Jones chose -- as far as we know, any drunken pirate could have wandered over there and stolen the chest at any time.
What He Should Have Done:
Davy has many powers, but he also has a weakness -- he can only walk on land once every decade. So why in the Flying Dutchfuck did he hide his heart in a place where he can only check on it about as often as the Detroit Lions make the playoffs?
He should have left it in San Francisco. As inconvenient, but more hummable.
Hey, you know what powers Davy did have? Well, for one, he could breathe underwater. He could have dropped that shit in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and never worried about it again. Why, he could have used the inaccessible depths of the ocean like some sort of personal locker.
Yeah, maybe it would have been lost under shifting sands or eaten by a fish or something, but who cares? There's no indication that he has any desire to ever access the chest again. And if he did, well, that's why we have crudely drawn maps with big Xs on them. Instead, he decided to keep it on an island he couldn't access, with no safety measures to deter those who could access it. Which, again, is basically anybody with feet.
Star Trek Into Darkness -- The Enterprise Crew Saves Kirk in the Riskiest Way Possible
J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into a Disappointing Remake of the Wrath of Khan featured English dreamboat Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, a genetically engineered superhuman who looks kind of like a sexy fish. He's forced to work for Admiral Marcus, who keeps him in line by holding Khan's former crew in suspended animation. When Khan goes rogue, Marcus sends Captain Kirk after him with some special torpedoes. The torpedoes secretly contain Khan's crew -- Marcus' plan is that they'll kill Khan and dispose of the evidence of his misdeeds at the same time. Why he hides them in conspicuously top secret weapons that everyone is immediately suspicious of, instead of just firing them into the sun, is never explained -- but that's a plot hole for another article.
Maybe he'd developed an aversion to bursts of bright light for some reason.
Later, Kirk goes and gets himself killed by radiation exposure while fixing the Enterprise's engines. All hope would seem to be lost, but Doctor McCoy, in a valiant attempt to discover the greatest deus ex machina in movie history, learns that Khan's genetically enhanced blood can cure death. Spock chases after Khan and rage pinches him into submission so he can bring his swarthy friend back from the great green booty palace in the sky.
What They Should Have Done:
Apparently the entire Enterprise crew forgot they had 72 other people with the exact same genetic enhancements as Khan just lounging in stasis on their own freaking ship. If Khan's blood could cure Kirk, so could any of theirs. There was no reason for them to risk waiting for Spock to capture Khan. We mean, yeah, it worked: They did manage to save Kirk with Khan's blood, but that's like waiting for the fire department to come put out your grease fire even though you're holding 72 fire extinguishers.
Some writer must have really wanted Khan and Kirk to swap fluids.
Man, with Star Fleet promoting a warmongering maniac to admiral and staffing the Enterprise with an entire crew too stupid to see the solution right in front of them, the third movie should realistically be about a bunch of bureaucrats overhauling the recruitment process.
Back to the Future Part II -- Doc Brown Fails at Time Travel
After having a skateboarding, rock 'n' roll inventing, almost-banging-your-own-mom adventure, Marty McFly was planning a nice evening in, just nailing his girlfriend, when Doc Brown appeared and babbled something about saving Marty's future kids. Apparently in the distant year of 2015 Marty's son gets 15 years in the slammer, and his daughter joins him after trying to get him out.
It's a cruel, dystopian world, with tapped phones and job insecurity.
So Marty and Doc go back to the future (you don't say), and Marty prevents Marty Jr. from getting involved in a life of crime. All would be well, except Marty buys a sports almanac from a bizarre future where people still buy books instead of just using Wikipedia. Biff, the now elderly bad guy from the first movie, steals the book and the DeLorean, travels back in time to give the book to his past self, and sets off a huge time gangbang whose repercussions span two movies and like a billion Cracked articles.
What He Should Have Done:
Doc Brown claims to be an expert on time travel, but he's more full of shit than the manure trucks Biff keeps crashing into. He forgot that present Marty at the start of the film was living in the, well, present -- and hey, that's before the future, isn't it? He thinks Marty has to travel to the future to save his not-yet-existent children in their present.
Easier than mounting a legal defense for Marty Jr. The future court system is a wreck.
But ... why?
Doc could have just shut his mouth after delivering that warning and called it an early day at the old chronology-screwing plant. Now that Marty knows what happens to get his kids in trouble, he has like 30 years to stop it. Why not plan to be out of town that day? Take a nice vacation, or tie the kids to the damn couch, or frame them for a different crime so they're already under arrest -- good luck getting arrested in jail, Marty's stupid kids!
Skyfall -- Bond Leaves a Phony Message Containing Honest Information
In Skyfall, James Bond finds himself at war with creepy cyberterrorist Raoul Silva. Silva, who once worked with M, Bond's boss, became obsessed with killing her after she left him for dead on a mission gone wrong. Why they thought we would root against someone with such fantastic hair just for doing something as relatable as trying to kill his jerk boss is unclear.
Hates his boss, dicks around with computers, bad teeth ... watching him is like looking in the mirror.
After Silva shoots one of Bond's interchangeable spy groupies, 007 hauls him back to MI6 headquarters for interrogation. But Silva uses Hollywood computer wizardry to break free, because at a certain point technology is indistinguishable from magic, and that point is called "screenwriting school."
"He cast +8 to Hacking; we're fucked."
So Bond sets a trap. He leaves a "hidden" message on MI6's network for Silva to find, telling him that Bond has brought M to his old family home. Bond takes M to the estate, where they'll have time to prepare for Silva's attack.
What He Should Have Done:
Here's the problem: None of the information that Bond leaks to Silva is false. He simply found a subtle way to tell Silva exactly what he wanted to know. Silva immediately heads to the Bond estate with a small army of mercenaries, which, you'll notice, is way more than "a surly gamekeeper," which is all the backup Bond thought to bring.
It's not like the Scot was the original 007, retired and in disguise. Or was he?
What the hell kind of trap is that? Bond should have teams of special ops soldiers dropping out of the trees the moment Silva shows up. Or a tank, or a minefield, or at least two surly gamekeepers -- you're supposed to look weak in an ambush, not actually be weak.
But OK, maybe Bond was worried that any sort of official planning would somehow tip Silva off. The bigger question is why the fuck is M even there? She's not a field agent, she's too important to be put at risk, and she's the goddamn target. Silva's sole motivation is making sure she dies. Couldn't 007 have just dropped her off at whatever the British equivalent of a Super 8 is (a Supercalifragilistic 7?). Silva didn't deduce M's location. He had no means of verifying it. He only thought she was there because Bond told him -- if she was literally anywhere else, she'd have been safe and sound.
That's right. The wacky Goldfinger ejector button would have actually saved her life.
But as it is, Silva succeeds in killing M, and it's all because of Bond's automatic knee-jerk reflex to bring fine-ass women back to his place.
What? Come on. Judi Dench is killin' it for her age.
Thanks to Adem B for the assistance. Steve Hanley occasionally wastes other movie insights on Twitter.
Related Reading: Speaking of stupid schemes, have you ever heard about the time a gang of villains tried to get Batman married? Some real-world schemes are even crazier. Like the time Ed Wood convinced a church to fund Plan 9 from Outer Space. Still not satisfied? Read about the most pointlessly elaborate murder plots in movie history.